Every year the stories come in. Hot weather. Football. Death. And every year we promise ourselves “This will never happen here”.
But it does. And in the aftermath we always remind ourselves that the human body is in the end fallible and one complex piece of equipment. One little thing like overheating can lead to ultimate disaster. And those deaths can leave behind in their wake devastation for the kids, the team, the coaches, and the community.
Atlas Fraley was one of those young men who did not make it.
4 Years ago the Chapel Hill High School big man had cramping and other symptoms that spoke to severe dehydration. After an early practice he cramped more and more and finally made it home where he called 911. He died sometime at home after that and was alone.
The facts of what happened are in dispute but now the Coaches, the School, and the Family are headed to court.
There is no way to know what really happened 4 years ago. And one can bet his coaches did a good job. But when you have extreme heat, cramping, and a big man like Atlas you better just sit the kid out. Once that deadly cycle starts you have a no win situation.
This is a game. Right? And we have to treat it like that.
This is life and death too. Right? And we have to treat it like that.
Both questions are a solemn reminder that we lost a kid and we have a mess.
Last season in 2011 Samuel Gitt fell to the same sort of fate. The young man played for Boiling Springs High School in Boiling Springs, South Carolina. Samuel was a linemen and he was at a team camp at Albright College when he collapsed and died. Heat did play a role as did dehydration. It was also determined that Gitt had an enlarged heart which is another problem facing coaches and something that can be tested for.
An investigation by an independent attorney led to a report that the school board just accepted.
That report outlines several things. Among them are the fact that Coaches need better emergency response training, that coaches need much better access to medical records, and that drugs may have been involved with members of the team. That brought forth requests for mandatory drug testing.
Of particular note were findings that many players came forth to admit they did not take water or fluid breaks as a way to impress the coaches. This is a real problem that only a cultural and top to bottom revamp can change.
The story on Gitt is here:
Read more: http://cumberlink.com/news/local/education/south-middleton-school-board-approves-report-into-football-camp-death/article_36d32dc6-c50e-11e1-b3cd-001a4bcf887a.html#ixzz1zfkOkI2q
What about the NCAA?
Recently a study brought forth the fact that we have lost 21 NCAA athletes to football workouts and conditioning in just the last decade. There are a lot of things involved here from heart conditions to sickle-cell related death that are factors. But at the center of it all is Heat!
New guidelines are being drafted by a consortium of professional including the NCAA, NATA (National Association of Athletic Trainers), the American College of Sports Medicine, and the American College of Emergency Room Physicians.
Those guidelines are pointing to the fact that we use unnecessary drills and fervor in our attempts to create the toughest and best athletes. Again these things have to change if we are going to balance safety with health. And it is almost an impossible thing to do if you’re a coach but even the best coaches can become better at their craft.
That story is completely outlined right here in a great article. http://www.theeagle.com/article/20120704/BC02/120709858/1098/BC02&slId=4
This is the time of year we have to remind everyone involved in the game to be on the watch and diligent. That includes parents and kids. This is a team sport and that means everyone has to work as such. Coaches have such a huge responsibility and can not do it alone. If you’re a parent or player help out. Call your coach or speak to them during these hot months if you see something that concerns you. Bringing those things to a Coach or Trainers attention will never be a bad considered bad thing.
Today we remember Atlas and Samuel and all the young men who we have lost out there on the grid iron.
Good luck to all the coaches and kids out there. We pray to the heavens no one else falls.